Wow

I am writing this post through a wave of emotion which some may refer to as grief. I am not happy with this grief malarchy so I have coined a new term for how I am feeling.  I am going to call it “Wow” rather than grief. It hurts like hell which is the “ow” part but it also has the “W” in front of it because its Wordly and its Wondrous. It is self discovery and it is that self in the World discovered. I’m starting to find my place in this magnificent World having been lost in its abundance for some time. Thank you to the Wows for opening my eyes.

Wow

It’s remarkable how many new channels have opened up and how receptive I currently am to them. Family, friends, fellow baby loss sufferers, intensive care buddies, books, podcasts, quotes, philosophy, psychology, poetry, music, art –  I can take so much more in and more importantly, make some sense of it. Over the course of the pregnancy and first month as a new parent I have learnt more than I have learnt in my lifetime. This may not have been that hard to achieve (!) as school and university passed me by almost in their entirety.  I was an observer, watching and joyfully sharing in my peers’ academic successes but failing to find a path of my own through the chronic anxiety that books, essays, deadlines and dreaded examinations fuelled. I was lucky, however, to have subconsciously benefited from the gift of an incredible education. Education is a gift – I realise this more than ever when we look at a world where for many, education is the biggest restriction to progression, particularly when that education is further restricted by gender. I was fortunate enough to go to a powerfully academic secondary all girls school in London. It wasn’t best suited to my nature – I’m probably more of a tea, biscuits and cuddles kind of girl than a reciting Virgil backwards in Japanese for fun at the weekends type. However, in watching these child geniuses at work, a conundrum began to develop in my head. I was a maternal being from the outset but this was not cool at school. I couldn’t put my hand up in careers forums and announce proudly, “I want be a mummy”. I am also fully aware that it is, among other things, not financially viable to be a stay at home mummy without relying on somebody else to pick up an overly substantial share of the working burden or moving to the middle of  nowhere and living off the fat of the land – a dream but in reality probably complete hell for somebody like me, who has lived in central London for 30 years. The “among other things” includes the fact that being on the receiving end of a fantastic education with outstanding opportunity seems somewhat redundant if you end up singing row row row your boat and probably sailing off with said boat down the stream into baby brain oblivion. But, how do we “have it all”. We don’t. But I do have one tiny baby in the stars, a tiny baby on Earth who has defied science in the womb and survived a ridiculously arduous start to life; a husband who I am lucky enough to remain in a close and loving relationship with despite the stresses and strains this year has brought and who has gone back to work for us at this time to enable me to be with Constance full time for now and an exceedingly supportive family and friends network. When I need to to go back to work for financial necessity and for my own personal progression and acknowledgement of the Katie within the mummy of Faith and Constance, I will, safe in the knowledge that you can’t have it all but you can have some of each part – and the sum of the parts becomes the whole.

Wow

Through my teens and 20s I struggled to make sense of who I was or where I wanted to go. Ultimately I should have looked to the beginning when it was all so simple. I, like many little girls, was a fully committed mother to 3 dollies. Georgina (rather on the large side…would we call her chubby?!!) and then, somewhat ironically, twins named Ben and Rebecca who also, somewhat ironically, happened to be on the minute side. I spent hours upon hours explaining to my imaginary mummy friends that though there was an obvious size difference, they were, in fact, all the same age. This is probably something I will have to spend many more hours explaining when tiny Constance comes home and we start venturing out into the World. Its funny how life brings you full circle! I mention this because finally I feel, for now, right where I should be. Although it is, at times, immensely painful and the journey that Fred and I have been on over this past year has been far from plain sailing, it has certainly shown us the way – rather strongly, I might add, but maybe its exactly what we needed to face life as it is, wake us up and shift us onto the path we were destined to follow.

Wow

Constance is 4 weeks old. She has upped sticks and moved into a little plastic tub with a heated mattress and importantly with no roof so we can now touch, kiss, stroke and cuddle her to our hearts content without the barrier to entry that the incubator sadly created. This is a huge step forward as it also means she is mostly managing to regulate her own temperature. She is humbly working her way past the 2 and a half pound mark which we hope will reach 3 come her Sunday weigh in. The doctors, nurses and support workers remain exceptional with their devoted care and love for our family.

As a parting gift, have a listen to this song which always makes me smile and move my body in uncontrollable ways! I hope it does the same for you – turn up the volume!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnkjvECEQr4

THANK YOU for reading, listening and for your endless love and support

Much love

Katie xxx

AFTER DARKNESS COMES THE LIGHT

Hello,

I wanted to start by saying a MAHOOSIVE THANK YOU for the unbelievable amounts of love, support, generosity and care from everybody who has crossed our path be it those we haven’t met yet but who’ve read our story and contacted me, relatives, dear old friends or amazing new ones – we really do not know where to begin to thank you for all your messages, letters, calls, food deliveries, pressies, packages from abroad and endless LOVE that we feel from every corner of the Earth – wow, that old adage “a friend in need is a friend indeed” has never rung so true – we are in need but by gosh do we have friends indeed. THANK YOU SO BLOOMIN’ MUCH!

I hope anybody kind enough to be reading this isn’t suffering from the dreaded flu. My poor husband, Fred, has gone down with it in majestic style and is being very brave (he wanted me to add the bravery bit especially!). This means he very sadly hasn’t been able to go to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to visit Constance due to risk of contamination.  At home he has further been quarantined to the back room in the hope that I don’t catch it, a double whammy of blows- sorry Manny! Secretly I think the latter might be rather more pleasant than he is letting on – no waking up every 2 to 3 hours through the night to the melodious sound of my breast pump in full swing – interestingly the company that make this pump clearly had a bit of a laugh in the manufacturing process – the sound that it emits in an unrepentantly rhythmical fashion can only be akin to that of a mooing cow!

We did, however, make one exemption from flu-gate for a very special trip to the hospital together on Tuesday to see Faith. This was only made possible by the incredible team in NICU who have been so kind to us and facilitated whatever Fred and I have wished for from the word go. THANK YOU team Nicu – we really couldn’t have asked for more.

On the day that the girls were born I had said that I didn’t want a particular service that the hospital together with the charity “Remember my baby”, kindly offer – that of a professional photographer capturing our time spent with Faith. To us, it all seemed too raw and a very private moment that we wanted to share as a (new) family. A wonderful member of staff on the Nicu team offered this service to us again when we discussed having some time with Faith before her departure from the hospital mortuary to the funeral directors next week. After some thought I realised that this might be a lovely idea. I particularly wanted to have a photograph of the girls together. I knew it wouldn’t be physically possible but the professional photographer made it possible by taking some photographs of Constance in a quiet intensive care room next to her usual busy dormitory and then coming over to a very peaceful bereavement room to take some discreet and sensitive photographs of Faith. These photographs could then be put together to create one of the twins as they were in the womb, side by side. Her photographs are so beautiful and so powerful in their quietude. We are forever grateful to the lovely photographer, Jackie who went out of her way for us – a charitable volunteer who came into our grieving wold for a brief moment but will remain in our thoughts for a lifetime due to the photographic memories we now share.

The memory making aspect of baby loss is something I have found incredibly important, both for my grief but more importantly for my joy – the memories fill me with love and happiness. I am so glad we have been given opportunities to make them throughout this journey – sadly we realise that this is not a service which every hospital can offer and for that we feel incredibly lucky but also acutely aware that we can do some work in due course to help other parents receive the outstanding support that we have.

Constance is 3 weeks old. She has crawled her way back up the scales and is now weighing in at 1.148g or 2.5 pounds – she’s got Tate, she’s got Lyle and she’s got a bit of something else extra special added into the mix too – well done little girl! She remains stable with the support of her fabulous nurses. The highly skilled specialist doctors are monitoring her closely and are comfortable with her progress to date – long may this continue! We have been given the heads up that she may even be discharged earlier than the usual time for neonates, which is around their original due date (27th December in our case). This could have meant turkey sandwiches and carols cot-side in intensive care but now might mean the full monty at home with all the trimmings! YEY!

Yesterday I had a meeting with the NICU psychologist to catch up with how I was getting on. For somebody to be asking about me seemed special at this time. Like any mother I have been so focussed on my babies and Constance’s ongoing care that I have rather neglected myself.  To have a chance to talk about how I was feeling and for somebody to be so caring and gentle with me, but also give me the space to discuss issues I otherwise wouldn’t have, was incredible. We talked about what gifts Faith has brought us as a family – I realised she has been the biggest gift of all on this journey and will continue to be. Fred and I have a totally changed perspective on life and we have discovered within us a depth of emotion we never knew we had or would be able to share with each other.

I also talked about an idea which has given me an understanding and acceptance of what has happened. Last week I had tea with the Reverend who taught me Religious Studies at school. He has since married Fred and I and both my sisters to their husbands, christened my sisters children and will hold the service of cremation for Faith in a couple of weeks. He has become a close friend of my family. He shared with me the idea that we do not have ownership of anybody in our lives – be it parents, siblings, boyfriends, husbands, children, friends etc. I carried Faith and Constance and I will always be their mother but I do not own them. I can provide support, comfort and unconditional love but they are their own unique beings and their journey/destiny is their own. In understanding this I also realised that in letting go I have not lost because Faith was never “mine” to begin with. He said “We are all part of the same eternal life and we are all contained within love” or as some might interpret, within the love of God (however this word has meaning to you). This has brought me immense relief.

Finally, I wanted to share this quote from Freud with you. A member of staff in NICU who has been incredibly supportive over our loss of Faith kindly sent it to me and it resonated so profoundly:

 “We find a place for what we lose. Although we know after such a loss, the acute stage of mourning will subside, we also know we shall remain inconsolable and will never find a substitute. No matter what may fill the gap, even if it may be filled completely, it nevertheless remains something else. And actually this is how it should be, is it the only way of perpetuating that love which we do not want to relinquish”

 

After darkness comes the light,

With love,

Katie xxx